If we observe the classical Chinese characters used to depict the Ren Mai we find various interpretations. In this blog post I would like to highlight two of these interpretations along with resulting clinical applications.
The Chinese character used to depict Ren can be seen as a man standing upright on his two legs holding a bamboo pole that is balancing a weight on both sides. Thus the essence of this character evokes the concept of human & balance, it can relate to an individual receiving the descending ‘heavenly’ virtue harmoniously with the foundation & reception that the ‘earth’ provides. In essence ‘Ren’ can relate to one’s ability to carry the burdens of life in a balanced and harmonious way, in accordance with the cycles of nature.
The second part of the character of Ren Mai, ‘Mai’ relates to the great network of vessels that assist in integrating the body into a whole. Mai encompasses the concepts of arteries, pulses, veins, meridians & flow.
From this depiction of the Ren Mai (meridian) we can see that it strongly relates to a deep form of nourishment that from which comes about both balance & harmony. It is referred to as the inner sea that brings about the fertility of life which feeds the yin meridians, for this reason too it is also related to conception & fertility, however it is important to note that this is one aspect of the Ren Mai and by no means it’s absolute.
Another interpretation of the Character ‘Ren’ in Ren Mai is that of a spool with its centre bulging out. Thus we can relate this to the trunk of the body itself. We could take the clavicle or hyoid bone as the upper end of the spool & the pubic bone as the lower end of the spool, with the bulge being the contents in between. Thus here we can physically see how the Ren Mai can relate to conception and pregnancy in females (abdomen bulging) as well as having an application to men too (abdomen bulging yet for different reasons).
It is also very interesting to note that the characters of Ren Mai relate to the concept of ‘responsibility’. This concept can be seen in the depictions of the Chinese characters in both interpretations above, whether it be the ‘responsibility’ one has to live their life in a balanced and harmonious way under the virtue of heaven in accordance with nature’s rhythm or whether it be the ‘responsibility’ one has in pregnancy or raising a child. Both interpretations clearly have the commonality of being responsible or accountable (to the heavens or your child), thus it is no coincidence that the front ‘mu’ acupuncture points (where the energetics of the organs manifest on the external aspect of the body) for many of the Zangfu organs can be found on the Ren Mai Meridian (thus the Ren Mai is ‘responsible’ for the internal aspects/organs/meridians of our body).
Thus in the acupuncture clinic it will come as no surprise that I utilise the Ren Mai meridian both for palpatory diagnosis and acupuncture treatment for addressing a myriad of health complaints. I find that it plays an indispensable part in my acupuncture clinical practice, with key areas being the lower Dan Tien region of Guanyuan Ren 4 & Qihai (sea of qi) Ren 6, the region of Ren 8 Shenque (spirit gateway) & Ren 9 Shuifen (water separation), Xiawan (lower) Ren 10 & Zhongwan (middle) Ren 12 & Shangwan Ren 13 (upper), as well as Jiuwei (turtledove tail) Ren 15 to Shanzhong (pericardium mu) Ren 17 to Huagai (magnificent canopy) Ren 20.
I have used the above regions and acupuncture points to address a large scope of pathologies from neck pain, emotional imbalances to autoimmune conditions. I can certainly say that through my clinical experience I can see that the Ren Mai truly does carry the ‘responsibility’ for the various organ & system functions of the whole integrated body.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
Giancarlo Nerini - Acupuncturist (Melbourne)